DPRK-US summit positive step toward denuclearization, China plays important role: scholar

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/6/12 8:26:06

With leaders of both the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States having arrived for their June 12 summit, the meeting offers a positive step toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and China has played an important role in this process, a Singapore-based scholar said Monday.

Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, holds an optimistic view on the outcome of the summit between Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, and US President Donald Trump.

"The meeting between Kim and Trump itself is a very positive sign. I'm optimistic about it, so long as Trump doesn't walk out in the first three minutes," he told Xinhua in an interview.

However, the scholar added that no one should expect the problem to be solved in one meeting given the issue's complexity and long history.

The widely anticipated summit, which to a certain degree rekindled hope for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, didn't happen without twists and turns. In a dramatic move earlier, the US president even canceled the meeting in a letter to Kim.

According to Zheng, even though considerable differences exist between Pyongyang and Washington over the definition of denuclearization, the two sides have objectives that are fundamentally in the same direction.

"That's why they have finally decided to sit down for the summit, and it shows there is lots of potential for negotiations," he said.

The scholar thinks that if all goes well, the DPRK, the United States and related parties can jointly create an "East Asia model" for successful denuclearization, which would be conducive not only to the countries involved and the region, but also the entire world.

China has played an important role in making the summit happen, Zheng said.

"China's influence has been very significant. It has not been easy for the DPRK and the United States to actually sit down together. Related parties, including China, have been making a lot of effort."

For instance, China has proposed the "dual-track" approach to solving the nuclear issue, something that takes into consideration the interests of both the DPRK and the United States. China's proposal provides a viable path toward achieving a common goal, said Zheng.

With the DPRK-US summit pending, the scholar called for rational decision-making.

"Don't let emotions overrun rationality," warned Zheng, which could lead to a failure in reaching a deal. He said both sides should consider the needs of the other.

For example, the DPRK has said it wants to focus on economic development. "This means it needs to solve the problem," he added.

Still, the summit is merely the beginning, not the end. Further work from both Pyongyang and Washington is still needed, Zheng said.

This is where China can play an even bigger role. If the DPRK focuses on economic development, China's experience from its reform and opening-up policy over the last 40 years could prove helpful, Zheng said.

Posted in: ASIA-PACIFIC

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